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The Screen-Eyed Monster

Coveting thy neighbor's oversized television? You're not alone.


"I've never been caught," Bundy says. "I'm never that obvious. I'll maybe stop, catch a few minutes of 'Sex and the City,' and move on."

Bundy traces her condition back two years, when she first moved to Los Angeles from Texas where her 33 inches did her proud. Back in the Lone Star State, she insists, "nobody else had big TVs."

Other victims betray their condition through their wallets. Take John McGann, who told his wife last year he would only move the family from Venice Beach if he could have a pool and a 57-inch TV.

Turns out, he paid more for that TV--$10,500--than he did to furnish the new home--$7,000. And guess which item arrived at the house first? "I had this massive TV, and there was not a stick of furniture in the new house," says McGann, a real-estate appraiser who moved to Westchester in November.

Wouldn't that money have been useful for his retirement? "Oh, I'm 56," McGann says. "I've got plenty of time for that."

One more symptom of screen envy: loss of ability to communicate. "Why did I want this TV?" McGann repeats a question. "I just wanted it."

Which brings us back to Big TV Man, King of Los Angeles, or, at least, ruling demigod of any TV lovers who live in my Park La Brea apartment complex. Big TV Man is actually Ryan Snyder, a very forgiving urban planner who let me see his projection system even after I confessed about the laser pointer.

He insists that having a big screen "has never been really important to me." Easily said, given that Snyder's projection system, rigged through a healthy-sized TV that also sits in the living room, registers him immune from screen envy. His digital projector can make images as big or as small as he wants.

Now all he needs is to sell tickets and popcorn.

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